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From Health Law Daily, January 28, 2015

President Obama wages historic fight with bacteria

By Bryant Storm, J.D.

The White House has announced renewed efforts to combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which cause two million illnesses and 23,000 deaths in the U.S. each year. According to a White House press release, President Obama’s fiscal year (FY) 2016 budget has allocated more than $1.2 billion to efforts directed at combating and preventing antibiotic resistance. The $1.2 billion figure is more than double the current federal funding devoted to the problem.

Funding. The budgeted funding includes a $1 billion investment to HHS designed to aid in the development of antibacterial and new rapid diagnostics, speed up the discovery of new antibiotics, expand antibiotic stewardship, and evaluate new antibiotic treatments. The funding will be spread across organizations including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Stewardship. A great deal of the President’s funding efforts are premised upon the understanding that the “judicious use of antibiotics is essential to slow the emergence of antibiotic resistance in bacteria and extend the useful lifetime of effective antibiotics.” The budget intends to improve collaborative efforts and coordination to reduce the unnecessary spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria across providers. The budget also aims at improving education among providers regarding antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Additionally, funding to the FDA will be devoted to continuing to phase out the use of “medically important antibiotics in food-producing animals.”

Surveillance. The budget also focuses on efforts to monitor the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The 2016 funding will double the CDC’s Emerging Infections Program sites from 10 to 20. Also, support will be given to the FDA’s National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System and the HHS Office of Global Affairs to “promote international communication and collaboration on combating antibiotic resistance, improve criteria for susceptibility reporting, and coordinate regulatory approaches with international agencies.”

Research. On the research front, funding is being devoted to deal with the reality that, as treatments become ineffective due to the emergence of resistance, new treatments become necessary.  The budget allocates money for basic life science research, in the hopes that new technologies can be used to advance the study of antibiotic resistance. Funding will also support efforts to develop new therapeutics and vaccines as well as alternative antibiotics for agricultural industries.

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